Mt. Hakkoda is a natural resort for all seasons. Although accessible throughout the year and conveniently located within one hour of the city of Aomori by bus, Hakkoda maintains within her expanse a glut of great natural offerings. Travelers in the area may enjoy skiing, snowshoeing, trekking, or horseback riding, and after all those activities, a good soak in one (or more!) of the numerous hot springs.
In the autumn, the forests of Mt. Hakkoda are saturated with bright colors. The leaves of beeches, Japanese oaks, maples and birches all don fiery hues of red, orange and yellow. The leaves start to change their color from the peak, and the color gradually moves down the slopes of the mountain, and because of its height, this dazzling show of nature may be enjoyed for a longer period here than in other destinations in Japan. The Hakkoda Ropeway offers a 20-minute ride with a breathtaking view of the autumn foliage in all its splendor.
Winter is the best season to visit Hakkoda for ardent skiers. Getting off the ropeway close to the top of the mountain, they can whoosh down over good powder snow and through the forest on ungroomed runs. For those newly initiated to the world of skiing, there are groomed slopes with an easier pitch at the foot of the mountain, complete with a chair lift. Backcountry enthusiasts may hire guides and enjoy the untouched slopes all to themselves. An added bonus: the fee for a guide is far less costly compared to other more well-known areas in Nagano and elsewhere.
Spring opens up yet another set of opportunities to enjoy the mountain. The road that connects Mt. Hakkoda to the magnificent Lake Towada is opened on April 1, after four months of closure during the height of winter. Even then, the passage is made possible only after vigorous snow clearing, which leaves natural snow walls nine meters/thirty feet high on both sides of the road, stretching on for eight kilometers, or five miles. Driving through these massive snow walls is a thrilling experience. With the opening of the road, the options for backcountry skiing and snowshoeing increase. Longer and different routes for these activities become available, because the participants may be picked up from places which were inaccessible before.
Summer in Hakkoda offers activities such as trekking and forest bathing. The mountain has a rich variety of terrains and routes, which can cater to trekkers with varying degrees of skills and fitness. A ride up the mountain on the Hakkoda Ropeway offers less committed visitors the chance to stroll around the area near the ropeway station and forest bathe.
Throughout the year, guests can enjoy hot springs dotted all around the area. Sukayu Onsen, a Japanese-style ryokan equipped with a huge traditional mixed bathing facility, is one example. For the less adventurous, they also have separate baths for each gender. Another example is the Jogakura Onsen, which is a western-style hotel. Each hot spring has its own distinctive characteristic; Sukayu’s milky spring water is infused with a little bit of sulfur, while Jogakura’s is clear, hard water.